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Libraries are buildings containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for people to read, borrow, or refer to. They house updated material to meet the user's needs on a daily basis, and can be funded by governmental authorities or private institutions. In the world of Readoria, however, they are seen as much more than that. The inhabitants of Readoria worship a god known as Thesaurus, a deity that presses his followers to pursue the accumulation of knowledge. This deity stresses continuous learning throughout life to increase one's standing in the world, and decries ignorance and stagnation as great evils that prevent the advancement of humanity. Libraries are sacred locations that store vast amounts of knowledge, with librarians serving as priests in direct service to Thesaurus. As such, they are religious centers of power that are a testament to the wealth of wisdom that humanity has attained over the centuries. For a small fee, individuals can rent material for a short period of time, later to be returned to the sacred library. This partially keeps the places funded, and are seen as a kind of tribute or " tithe " to fund God's work.

However, things have begun to change with advances in technology. The rise of E-commerce has begun to challenge and compete with the traditional system. The common man through the use of a simple click can have items brought to them within a matter of days for a small fee, instead of having to wait an indefinite period of time to gain access to reading materials. This makes costs cheaper for the average consumer. In addition, electronic books, or E-Books, have come on to the scene as a new and convenient way to interact with material, which can be accessed anywhere. With these technological advances, traffic to centers of worship have begun to decline, robbing libraries of much needed revenue. As less people travel to these places, they have become less relevant to society, leading many leaders to question their purpose and whether they should continue bothering to support them. This has especially been the case with the Grand Library of Alexandria, which was once the crown jewel of the world. In recent years, it has declined as a cultural center, becoming dangerously underfunded.

How can the traditional system of power be maintained while competing with newer advances?

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  • $\begingroup$ What's wrong with DRM? I mean, you wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a TV, downloading a mov... errr, a sacred book not certified by the library is ste... err, a capital sin. Besides, for your convenience, there's an app for that (many actually, all blessed by the library), it will even "return" the ebook to the library on term if you forget to do it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 2:45
  • $\begingroup$ Who holds copyright on all the sacred texts? If it is the church, they should be able to stop this eCommerce - which is essentially a piracy. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 18:03

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robbing libraries of much needed revenue

Where do you think the e-books are served from? Where do you think the people who'll sell you stuff online host their websites? In a magical cloud?

Google datacenter image of racks with technician

Datacenters are the modern versions of your library. The priesthood is still there, the endless shelves of arcane knowledge, the scale of the architecture... sure, most aren't as pretty as, say, a cathedral, but boxy commercial and industrial buildings are a capitalist esthetic, not a religious one and who's to say what your datacentres look like.

Amazon, a former bookshop, is now in the datacenter business, and they're doing OK. I'm sure your church will be fine, given suitably visionary leadership.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the only answer that makes sense given our understanding of eCommerce. To quote Rush, "We are the priests of the temples of Syrinx, Our great computers fill our hallowed halls." $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:58
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There would be a schism, I think between the two views. Many would go the new route, seeing that learning online, not just through reading, but also watching videos online from independent creators, was enough to learn.

The orthodox school of thought however would hold that such a thing is blasphemous, and might villainize the opposing school of thought to instill some "godly fear" on those who are on the fence. You would want to stress that this way of learning is a more sacred space, free of distractions from learning on the go. It shows a sacrifice of effort, that you care enough about learning to travel to a place to do it.

This situation has some interesting ways you could delve into it too. You could address very real problems in our world of independent people being able to misinform you because of the ease of making online content. You could show a wide spectrum of views, with the old way possibly splitting up into a number of denominations.

There is much you can look to in real history to see how such schisms of doctrine occured, such as The great schism, the reformation, and many more.

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  • $\begingroup$ But personal opinion on your idea - unless this is intended to be a middle grade work, or comedic in tone, I would caution against having the land literally be called Readoria, and their god being named Thesaurus. It's... a little on the nose. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ A ... ummm... courageous decision to take a literary stroll on parallels with the current "My ignorance is as good as your knowledge" attitude present in some countries of today. This may be taken as a just, well, a statement of opinion, me being quite sick of the frequency I'm stumbling over "science is a religion" lately. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 3:47
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Knowledge has to come with books, true, but not with any book. Only books which are written with the holy ink are apt to the worship of Thesaurus.

E-books don't have access to this holy ink because of their very nature, and it's up to the religious hierarchy to decide which ink can be made holy and which not, so it's not a given that press or printers can also produce holy books.

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  • $\begingroup$ Making an e-ink screen which uses the appropriately blessèd pigment is just a matter of engineering, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, you are assuming the clergy is willing to bless something which would make them lose control over the worship "business". $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 7:53
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Treat Citations like SSLs and Liberaries like Certificate Authorites

In our world, fake news, poor research, and bad citations are pretty annoying, but freedom of speech/press pretty much protects people from getting in trouble for spreading misinformation. In this world however, spreading of false information is literally blasphemy. After all, you can not worship the god of knowledge and not care about the quality of that knowledge.

As the rise of digital information begins; so too will the the spread of misinformation as you allow any person with a keyboard to publish whatever thoughts they want. The church will see this and demand much stronger regulations on the content of the internet. If an e-business wants to go toe-to-toe with the theocratical authority of the church, then the internet will simply be banned. Instead they need to make concessions that do not exist in our world to appease the church, if they wish to survive their infancy period.

In our world, when you go to make a website/webservice, you spend a few bucks on a domain, server, and SSL and you are in business. But in this world you have a requirement to prove the information you publish is factual and/or honest reproductions of content. For this you need citations. However, it is not considered good enough to just cite someone else's digital whatever, you have to go back to the source: the authoritative source. So let's say you want to publish something about the Roman's you learned on YouTube, well you can't just cite the YouTube channel because that YouTuber is not a Certified Source. Instead you find his citation which might look something like

Quintus Fabius Maximus. "Cunctator", 221-217 BC, Edenwald Library, Bronx, New York : Reference Code: dZHprSPg7mV72djfBtdGJjXm

This citation has two key parts that are relevant to the OP. #1: it tracks the knowledge back to the library (or museum) that contains an original copy of the source, and #2. All citations need a Reference Code. The reference code is a number issued by the library to prove your citation is verified. So, if you wish to publish your article, you need to a reference code... but you can't just copy and paste someone else's reference code onto your website, that code is unique to that YouTuber to prove that HE actually did his research. Since you did not do your research, that code does not apply to you. So you need to call up, email, or visit the library and request to either check out the book, or in the case of rare or delicate books a verified transcript for research for your specific website. Once they have verified that you have checked out and returned the book thereby demonstrating you know what you are citing, you can request a citation code that is unique to you. So now, they are not just making money on you checking something out, but they are making money on the citation itself.

Then when someone goes to your website, the browser will check for citation codes the same way it does for SSLs. If your site does not contain a reference code that can be verified as belonging to you, then visitors see a big red page that says "Danger, this site contains unverified information" and warns you that you may be visiting a malicious or sacrilegious website that you have to click through multiple confirmations to bypass. Search engines will also down rank sites for not having confirmable reference codes since these are more likely to be unsafe and misinformative; so, if you want your website to do well, you must at some point in the process, pay a library to confirm your research.

The way that e-books factor in is that they are not considered "a verified transcript" unless the church issues them a Rite of Authority. To become your own authority, you must demonstrate to the church your possession of a significant body of original content that you can compare against any transcripts you distribute. So, e-stores have 2 options then. They must either be an extension of a physical library that contains original sources of what they put online, or they must pay a library a citation fee for every e-book they publish.

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